Jan 192014
 

I’m the Queen of Bs in my home. Nope, that’s not a typo. B stands for Books, Boxes and Bags, all three of which I collect in all sizes and shapes. I’m guilty of purchasing duplicate books and bag patterns, in fact, because I likely have too many of them and can’t keep track of them. That being said, I have decided that 2014 is the year when I will begin to actually use those bag patterns, mainly to learn about bag construction, with a long-term goal of designing my own.

BagClubButtonTo get started, I joined Bag of the Month Club, organized by Sara Lawson, author of Big-City Bags: Sew Handbags with Style, Sass, and Sophistication. The club is open to anyone, releases one brand new bag pattern a month from a different but well-known designer, and runs for six months. Over 200 individuals have joined the club so far, which you can join anytime you like during the six months of the club, and you’ll still get all six patterns. The cost is $40—pretty reasonable for well-written and illustrated bag patterns from designers like Sara of Sew Sweetness, Janelle of Emmaline Bags, Samantha of At home with Mrs H, Betz White, Anna of Noodlehead, and Chris of Chris W. Designs. You can join a Flickr group, too, or visit Facebook, where you can view other people’s finished products.

January’s bag is the Bye Bye Love Bag, designed by Sara Lawson. The bag features two exterior pockets on the front, a zipper pocket on the back, and six pockets on the interior. So far those who have completed the bag say it is very roomy, perfect as an overnight bag.

Photo courtesy of Sara Lawson

Photo courtesy of Sara Lawson

I have some purse hardware I bought locally at Jo-Ann Fabrics, as well as some online sites. Some great online resources for bag hardware and purse-maing supplies include:

I have not yet begun to sew my first bag because I have been occupied with Destination Imagination volunteer activities this month, but I did purchase my fabrics. They are from the Bobbins and Bits line designed by Pat Sloan for Moda Fabrics©.

Bag Fabrics

I don’t know whether I will actually be able to finish one bag a month, but that is certainly the goal. Have you started a new monthly challenge recently?

© 2014 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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Oct 312013
 

In my previous post, I discussed how creative prompts, which can take the form of challenges or exercises, light the creative fuse. It seems appropriate to follow up that post with the results of this month’s Blogging Business Artisans challenge, Prelude to the Holidays. LeAnn of Pasqueflower Ponderings challenged fellow team members to come up with a holiday-themed project:

October! It is time to start thinking ahead to the holidays—Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Year. They will be here before we know it! This month, I challenge you to create a holiday-themed item. It could be a new listing for your Etsy shop, a holiday decoration for your home, a costume or special accessory for a holiday gathering, or a gift you intend to give to a friend or loved one. Since ‘prelude’ is a musical term, you could also make something music-themed if you wish.

The timing was excellent for LeAnn’s challenge. After the holidays last year, I thought about developing a “12 Days of Christmas Recipe Exchange Book,” but hadn’t fully fleshed out my ideas. Well, there’s nothing like a challenge to help an idea come to life!

My initial thought was that I would design 4-inch by 6-inch recipe cards for the book, using minimal embellishments so that there would be ample space for the recipe itself. I pictured cards with a narrow stripe of holiday-themed paper along the top of the cards. I planned to insert the cards in Teresa Collins Pre-Punched Page Protectors like the ones shown below. However, to my dismay I discovered that when you remove the pages from the package, you have to peel them apart and that is when the risk is greatest of tearing the pre-punched holes. Never mind that the package warns you, “Pull apart gently.” I did, but I still ripped a page.

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I began re-thinking where the stripe on my cards should be, and then it occurred to me that I could include a top-and-bottom stripe if I reinforced the pre-punched holes. I folded a one-inch-wide strip of paper lengthwise, adhered Scor-Tape to it, and covered the pre-punched edge of each page protector. Then I added a second strip to the bottom of each page, purely for decorative purposes. This was the result.

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The covers of the book came next. I embellish most of the books I make with a flower, but because this book will likely get a lot of handling, I decided to adhere a fairly flat flower. I used a Poppy Stamps Blooming Poinsettia steel craft die set to cut out the petals, leaves and stamens. Because the die pieces are very small and have a tendency to move as they go through the Big Shot, I used the new Sizzix Magnetic Platform to keep them in place. I love this gadget!

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Before I adhered the flower to the book, I outlined the edges of the petals and leaves in gold with an Elmer’s Metallic Painters marker, and emphasized the veining in the petals with  an At You Spica pen, and the veining in the leaves with a VersaMarker watermark pen.

Recipe Book Collage

This book is ready to be listed in MisterPenQuin. I suspect others will follow!

© 2013 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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Aug 302013
 

I almost ran out of days this month to finish the August challenge organized by fellow Blogging Business Artisans teammate Linda of lindab142. “Fall is coming,” said Linda. “Create an item for autumn or blog about what you like about fall/autumn.”

Fall happens to be my favorite season. I love how the heat of summer shifts into cooler temperatures, how the air turns crisp, and the leaves change colors and drift to the earth. Both indoors and outdoors, you’ll see rich colors such as harvest gold, burnt orange, olive green and every shade of brown. Traditional tastes and smells include pumpkin and apple, cinnamon, cloves and hot cocoa. I’m sure I’ve left out a few, but needless to say, this is a season that for me is too short. It can’t arrive soon enough, either, as the hot, humid weather of August weighs down on everyone. Late this afternoon the thermometer read 103 degrees, most definitely not picnic weather . . . unless, perhaps, if you’re a lizard.

Because I enjoy fall so much, you’ll always see products reflecting the colors of autumn in both of my shops, JN Originals and Mister PenQuin. I am currently adding some new handmade books to the latter shop that have “fall” written all over them. Today I finished the lined journal below, which I’m going to have a hard time not keeping for myself.

August Challenge

I’d love to hear how you feel about fall. Is it your favorite season, too? To see how other Blogging Business Artisans members handled the August challenge, visit August Fall Is Coming Link Party.

© 2013 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

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